Out Of The Bag


cooper_icon.gif lance_icon.gif nicole_icon.gif noah_icon.gif

Scene Title Out of the Bag
Synopsis It's just a normal Wednesday at SESA-NY.
Date March 25, 2020

Fort Jay

Governor's Island

Like clockwork, Nicole Varlane steps out of her office at 10:05 AM and starts her way toward the kitchenette, a vintage green Depression glass tumbler in her hand. She weaves her way through the bullpen of agents’ desks, unaware of the eyes on her as she goes, though she isn’t actually ignoring anyone.

Once at the kitchen, she opens the under-sink ice maker and, with the metal scoop, heaps ice into her glass. Then, she grabs a two liter bottle of ginger ale off the counter (marked with NV in blue Sharpie) and splashes it into her glass.

This is her morning ritual. Coffee first, then switching to her non-caffeinated soda.

Just like clockwork. Lance just happens to be in the break room’s kitchen as well, sorting through a cupboard and getting foam cups out to fill the place where they sit on the counter. Because that is clearly a very important duty that must be done right away.

He’s being generally unobtrusive, in that way that interns and trainees always learn how to do.

“Morning!” Is the bright cheery greeting from the direction of the breakroom table, said around his current bite of donut. An open pink box sitting at the center of it. In one of the chairs, Thomas Cooper lounges with converse clad feet propped on one of the other chairs, crossed at the ankles.

It was rare for him to be sitting at the table eating, the senior agent had no qualms about getting crumbs all over his desk in the bullpen. A small cage sits on the table next to him, inside there is a soft whek sound coming from a ginger hair guinea pig. It watches Cooper’s every move, the sounds ramping up when he offers out a tasty bit of donut.

This was Al. Everyone knew Al.

“No, I expected you to have the file finished before I got to my office.” Is a voice coming down the hall much later than it usually does. “Today was even your lucky day, I’m an hour late. But you squandered that. So now I’m here, walking to my office, and you have until I open that door to have the report in my hand or on my desk.”

Noah Bennet comes into view from behind a wall of frosted glass, just in view of the kitchen, talking on his cell phone. “I don’t know what to tell you, other than good luck.” Noah stops as he ends the call, looking up and spotting a few people in the break room kitchen. He looks away, in the direction of his office, then back to Nicole with a smile. Today, he decides to be both generous and gregarious.

Bennet walks into the kitchen, setting his anachronistic briefcase down on the table with a look back over his shoulder to Cooper, eyes up to Cooper’s eyes, eyes down to Cooper’s feet on the chair, lingering in a you know what you’re doing wrong father-knows-best sort of way before turning his attention to Lance and Nicole.

“Good morning,” Bennet says with a smile Nicole knows well enough is an act. “What brings my favorite special agent and my favorite agent-trainee into the kitchen?” He asks as he moves over to the coffee pot, overturning an empty mug from the side of the sink and wiping it out with a square of paper towel.

“Morning, gentlemen,” Nicole offers with a brief glance over her shoulder, quickly returning her attention to filling her glass with soda. She squints faintly as it seems to fizz up more than expected, easing off the pour before it reaches the top. It doesn’t bubble over, she relaxes and tops it off with another tip of the bottle before recapping it and pushing it back to the wall again.

Turning with her glass in hand, she leans back against the counter, eyeing Bennet up and down. “We’re still on for lunch today, right?” Very deliberately, she adds, “I cleared my schedule.” She’s been out of the office a bit recently, given the injury and the… death in the family, such as it is. They have catching up to do.

The glass is brought to her lips, but then lowered again without taking a drink, in favor of craning her neck so she can see what’s in the box on the table. Nicole glides her tongue over the front of her teeth. “Please tell me there’s a chocolate and Bavarian cream in there,” she says to Cooper. Lunch isn’t for at least two hours anyway.

Uh oh. Noah is not only there, but he’s smiling and he’s calling everyone his favorite and this is triggering every red alert bell in Lance’s head. The timing couldn’t be worse!

“Good morning, Agent Bennet,” he offers in chipper tones, “Just, you know, sorting everything in place.” The styrofoam cups are set down next to the coffee pot. He glances to Nicole, then looks away as he moves to replace a roll of paper towels that isn’t quite empty but is empty enough that it provides a good excuse to still be in the room.

Having Bennet looming over him was a bit unnerving, Cooper stopped mid chew to follow the older man’s gaze down to his feet. Oh. Feet slide off the chair, forcing Thomas straight. Though he does manage to make a face at Noah’s back and the praising of the other two gets a roll of his eyes. Leaning forward he whispers to the Guinea pig. “It’s okay, buddy, you're my favorite mascot.”

The question Nicole asks has Cooper looking back up at the trio, then to the donuts. “Uh…” He lowers his hand to hide the half eaten donut. “Nope. Sorry. Missed out.” Cooper shakes a finger in the direction of the bullpen. “Gotta be quick with that lot out there.” And him.

“The early bird gets the donut,” Noah says out of the side of his mouth to Nicole, picking up a plastic coffee stirrer and gesturing to her with it. “And I wouldn’t miss our lunch for anything, unless I get a call back from the Parsons. Their son manifested last week and he hasn’t come down from the ceiling since.” Bennet dips the stirrer down into his coffee, flashing a smile. “You know how kids are.”

He’s been doing this for weeks now, finding agency-related reasons to dodge a one-on-one conversation with Nicole. He’s frustratingly adept at it, and Nicole is certain that he derives some measure of enjoyment out of that particular game of cat and also cat.

“As for you,” Noah says to Lance, tossing the stirrer past him into the trash, “we all come from humble beginnings. Even back before SESA, I wasn’t always a Company agent. Sometimes we come from nothing, or from small jobs.” He motions to the coffee cups. “And find something special we weren’t looking for.”

Noah then slowly turns to look at Cooper’s guinea pig. “Or sometimes there’s just a rodent. In a federal office. Near the food.”

“Ah, damn,” Nicole sighs about the donut, more crestfallen than she really seems like she ought to be. It’s just a donut. (Unless you’re Thomas Cooper.) But from the jaws of that defeat, she means to snatch some victory. “Oh, good!” she chimes to Noah’s potential conflict. “I am way overdue for one of those audits. We can make it a working lunch!”

Fucking try to dodge me again, you slippery fuck. I dare you.

Her gaze drifts to Al, lifting her brows faintly as if she’s just realized she never actually seems to question the weird shit that happens in this office. “I was a secretary until I worked my way up that particular corporate ladder to personal assistant,” she offers up as her own anecdote of humble beginnings. Maybe she needs to spend more time with Bennet. Get her sense of normalcy back.

Looking back to Noah, that thought is mulled over while she takes a gulp of her ginger ale.

And promptly spits it out in his direction, coughing and sputtering, groping for the counter until she finds it and can set the glass down without dropping it. Nicole thumps herself on the center of her chest once, twice, and a third time, before she finally feels her airway has cleared.

Then she lifts her head and looks straight at Lance with a glare that makes him grateful that she doesn’t throw lightning from her eyes. She lunges for him.


Aaaaand he’s off!

“ItwassupposedtoallfizzupIdidn’tthinkyou’dactuallydrinkit— “ A rapid-fire explanation explodes from Lance, who over the years has become a master of avoiding the lunge in the aftermath of his pranks. He used to have to avoid a replicator. Plus he was keeping an eye on Nicole the whole time.

“I’ve got work to do, Agent Varlane, gotta go!” He’s up and over an unoccupied chair and heading for the bullpen.

Somehow, one expects that is not going to discourage pursuit.

“I promise, he’s a very clean rodent,” Cooper comments without a hitch. “And hey, in a cage.” Al gives a sharper whek as if agreeing with the man. While he was talking, his attention was on Nicole. Like he was waiting. He might have known. There is pride in smirk, watching Lance bolt. Shaking his head, Cooper gets to his feet, making sure to set an extra donut on top of Al’s cage, before picking it up.

Clearly, Thomas came only for the show.

“Oh… and Bennet.” Cooper pauses near the other man, “I recommend not using the powdered creamer on the counter. Use the one in the fridge. Pretty sure the counter stuff is laced with a laxative.” Cooper comments, eyes widening a bit in horror. “Do not ask how I know, but I assure you it wasn’t pretty.” Warning given, he moves to follow the show in progress.

Noah raises a brow at Cooper, then slowly looks to Lance’s retreating form as if he were the guilty party, then just smiles and laughs and shakes his head before taking a sip of coffee.

“That’s actually a great idea Nicole,” Noah says thoughtfully from over the brim of his coffee, distracting her from pursuit of Lance. “Except,” she can hear the click of his tongue before it comes, “with your impending promotion I don’t figure you’ll have a lot of time to do field work. Working lunch or no,” he adds as he circles around Cooper, then leans in close to examine the guinea pig cage, still talking to Nicole as he does. “But I promise we’ll get that lunch one of these days.”

Noah squints, looking at the guinea pig, then back over to Cooper. “My son had one of these once,” he looks back to the cage and slowly stands up, taking a sip of his coffee. “Got out of his cage one night and into something he shouldn’t have. We had to bury him in the backyard.”

The chair pushed into her path by Lance’s vaulting over it does slow Nicole’s pursuit. Just long enough for her to turn a frustrated look to Noah and point to him like she might be scolding her daughter. “I’m not done with you, Bennet,” she warns as she shoves the chair out of her way and stomps off to the doorway to the bullpen.

“Gerken!” Nicole shouts after the retreating junior agent. Which should not necessarily encourage him in any way to stop attempting to outrun her. That wagging finger points down at the ground at her feet as her voice carries across the bullpen after him. Much faster than her own footsteps. “Do not screw with me!” Faster even than her brain is apparently prepared to keep up with. “I am pregnant!

Nicole stops in her tracks immediately, frozen in horror for the words that just tumbled out of her mouth for the entire office to hear. This is like one of those nightmares she used to have back in college, where she’d show up to give a presentation, but she’d be naked. Or she’d discover she was due to take an exam for a class she never attended. This is like that, but worse. Because this is real life.

The eletrokinetic closes her eyes and breathes out a heavy exhale that looks a lot like oh, fuck, even if it doesn’t audibly carry the syllables.

Imagine, if you will, that time had suddenly slowed down. Lance’s head slowly turned to whip around and gawp at the admission just shouted across the bullpen, his eyes widening. Unfortunately, his body continues forward in the manner that physics demand it does, and he hits the edge of a desk and tumbles right over it, hitting the chair on the other side (fortunately not currently inhabited) and teetering for a precarious moment before it, too, crashes down with him in it.

From somewhere behind that desk, on the floor, there’s the surprised shout of “You’re pregnant?”

Perplexed at Noah’s comment, Cooper's eyes narrow as if trying to figure out his intent. Of course, such a feat requires sustenance, so the donut perched on top of Al’s small travel cage loses a bite out of it. Which might be a mistake, because Nicole is yelling about….

Cooper chokes on the donut, reducing him to violent, red-faced coughing. Needing a moment, he starts to hand off Al to Noah, but quickly thinks better of it - you’re not murdering this one, old man - and reverses course to hand it off to an unfortunate agent. Unburdened, Thomas takes the moment he needs to recover, bent over with hands on his knees. All that feels like a lifetime, but it happens in mere seconds.

“Too late, Varlane. I’d say someone screwed with you already,” Cooper manages to croak out, looking at her from his hunched over position, like she had multiple heads… which technically with the news she does now.


The shriek of a familiar voice over near reception makes Cooper cringe visibly. One hand goes up like he’s going to ward off a blow. “Sorry, Linda,” he calls over to a short, heavy set woman who glares at him with pursed lips and hands on her hips. “Sorry,” he says again, this time Nicole’s way.

Noah is still and silent, like a prey animal assessing every snap of twigs and rustle of leaves in the forest. Even if he’s smiling, it’s a mask, and his slowly swiveled attention from Cooper to Nicole is an assessing one. When he doesn’t notice an immediate static discharge, Noah takes another sip of his coffee and then raises it like a toast with one eyebrow crooked up over the frames of his horn-rimmed glasses.

Mazel tov?” Noah says with an awkward, toothy smile.

Thanks.” Nicole replies flatly to Noah, without looking back at him. Or at anyone. Especially not Thomas fucking Cooper.

Then, she lifts her voice again. “Yes, Lance. Did I mumble?” No. No, she did not. “Pregnant. Two of them. Due in September or October.” Just to head all those off at the pass. With each sentence, the pitch of her voice raises about another half-step higher. “Yes, it’s a shotgun wedding. I’m holding the shotgun. See you all there in a week-and-a-fucking-half? Great.”

Nicole lifts her head, her cheeks puffing out with a heavy exhale. “Awesome. Glad we had this chat, everyone. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get out of these fucking Spanx.”


A handful of confetti flies up from behind that desk, and then slowly descends… all over the desk. Whoever’s desk it may be. Where Lance got a handful of confetti, it’s probably best not to ask.

He doesn’t come out from behind the desk right now, though, because he’s worried about getting electrocuted.

Oh my god… he wants to say something, there is so much he could say, but a glance at Linda keeps Cooper’s mouth shut. Pressing his lips tight against temptation, he slinks his away from Noah towards his own desk with the intent to finish his donut and work on the paperwork for his recent case.

Noah pump his eyebrows up and taps a hand on Cooper’s shoulder as he walks by, coffee in hand, shaking his head and laughing to himself.

“Happy hump day.”

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